Category Archives: the joys of reading

The mystery is finally solved!

This story requires a little background information.  When I was growing up, I had a bookcase next to my bed.  On the side of the bookcase, there was a small poster that had something to do with reading.  A few years ago, I started thinking about that poster.  I could remember what it looked like:  a few kids were sitting on a piece of furniture in an old, Victorian living room reading books.  The cover of the books had beanie hats on them and it was like they were trying to solve a mystery of where the hats could be.  The funny part was that there were beanie hats hidden throughout the living room.  I thought there was a phrase on the poster, too.  Something like “Reading is a Mystery.”  I couldn’t remember every detail, but I remembered the style of the poster.  All these years later, it reminded me of Edward Gorey.  So, for the past couple of years, I’ve tried Google searches with every possible combination of the words I used in the description above without any luck.

Yesterday, I was on Etsy and thought, “maybe they have the poster.”  I found it!  (Ok, it was already sold, but with the extra information I found on the Etsy site (it was “Solve Mysteries–Read” not “Reading is a Mystery”) I was able to find a bookmark version on another site.  It turns out it was created for an ALA program (SRP perhaps?) in the mid 90s.

Thanks for Etsy shop GryphonVintage for pointing me in the right direction!

Thanks for Etsy shop GryphonVintage for pointing me in the right direction!

I can’t wait until the bookmark comes!  It will be a great addition to my collection 🙂

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WWW Wednesday

Here’s a fun blog feature, hosted by Should be Reading.  It goes like this…

What are you currently reading?

What did you recently finish reading?

What do you think you’ll read next?

Here are my answers:

 

What are you currently reading?

Image from goodreads.com

Image from goodreads.com

I am currently listening to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn while I fold laundry and reading We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler.  Very different books, but both enjoyable in their own ways.

What did you recently finish reading?

Image from:  goodreads.com

Image from: goodreads.com

The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer.  Very good book.  I had never read anything by this author before, but her writing reminded me of Tom Perrotta, which is always a good thing.

What do you think you’ll read next?

The_goldfinch_by_donna_tart

I seem to be on an adult fiction kick lately.  I’ve heard amazing things about The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt, so maybe that if I can work it into my schedule once school starts.

I would love to hear your answers to these questions in the comments! 

 

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The benefits of good literature

What good literature can do and does do — far greater than any importation of morality — is touch the human soul. -Karen Swallow Prior

This quote is from an interesting article entitled “How Reading Makes Us More Human.”  The full article can be found here:  http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2013/06/how-reading-makes-us-more-human/277079/

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the place reading takes in our lives.  Do we read to escape?  To kill time?  To learn?  To experience another way of life?  In addition to our intent when we sit down to read, what are the unintended consequences (or more accurately, benefits) of reading?

I’d love to hear your take on the article in the comments!

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June 25, 2013 · 9:32 pm

Summer Reading Inspiration

Happy First Day of Summer!  To celebrate the season, I intend to blog every day this summer.  It may be a short book review, a list of recommended books, or pictures from library programs, but there will be something up every day.

To kick off my summer blog posts, I interviewed two of my reading heroes:  Sam and his mom Julie.  Over the past year, they completed an amazing reading challenge.  Here’s what they had to say:
1.        Why did you decide to read 1000 books?

Sam:  My school gave me a challenge to read 1000 books before the end of the year.
Julie:  I decided to help Sam achieve his goal of reading of having read to him 1,000 books from January 28 to June 17.

2.        About how many books per day did you read to complete this challenge?

Sam:  Sometimes 10 and sometimes 30, I think.
Julie:  It averaged about 15 books per day.

3.        What are some of your favorite books?

Sam:  I love the book,  Parts and the other one, More Parts. I had Momma read them about 50 times. But she didn’t let me count them more than once.

Julie:  I am partial to the Little Critter books, Franklin books and anything by Dr. Seuss.

4.        Have you always loved to read?

Sam:  Well, I just learned.
Julie:  I have loved reading children’s books since 1984, when my oldest child was born. But I have never been a reader of novels. But when Sam started reading for this challenge, I started reading novels by Sparks, Steele and Ross. I’m hooked now!

5.        Why do you like to read?

Sam:  It’s fun and some books are funny.
Julie:  I like to read to learn new things and also for the entertainment. But I especially love to read to children.  I love experimenting with different voices for the various characters.

6.        Where is your favorite spot to read?

Sam:  Outside on the porch.
Julie:  I love reading on the porch in the sunshine.  And I love to read, snuggled up to Sammy, at bedtime.

7.        Ok, so you’ve read 1000 books, what’s your next reading goal?

Sam: I am reading 1000 books over the summer.
Julie: we are reading another 1,000 over the summer. And we are reading another 77 books and doing a reading project on each of these, for each day of summer vacation.

Thanks Sam and Julie.  Happy Reading!

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The Perfect Fall Reading Snack

Sorry about the hiatus…coming back from vacation and settling back into work took up a lot of my energy these past couple of weeks. 

Now that fall is officially here, I’m thinking about cuddling up with a good book and a perfect fall reading snack.

Here are some options:

1.  Apples (Macintosh apples are my favorites this time of year) plain, or with cinnamon sugar, or dipped in caramel 🙂

Image from: spoonfulofdelight.com

2.  Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

3.  Apple cider

4.  Slightly less healthy (but no less delicious):  Little Debbie Pumpkin Delights.  These might be a once a season snack.

Image from: littledebbie.com

What is your favorite fall reading snack?  I’d love to hear suggestions in the comments!

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The Perfect Reading Snack: Summer Edition

Ice water with raspberries and an amazing ARC-great combination.

On my days off, I try to spend as much time as I can reading (preferably outside).  An entire afternoon of reading, ruminating, and enjoying the breeze is pretty much all I can handle on a hot summer day.  So, how to fuel these lovely afternoons?  Here’s a list of some of my favorite summer reading snacks:

Cucumber spears and pepper strips with hummus

Strawberries (picked from a local farm)

Israeli Couscous Salad (this is getting into lunch territory, but I would have a small bowl of this as a snack).  The recipe can be found at Food Network.

Cherry Tomatoes

Grapes

Limeade

What are your favorite reading snacks for summer?  I would love to hear your suggestions in the comments!

 

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Reading Quirk: the rooms inside my mind

Everyone has their own requirements for what makes a Really Good Book (RGB).  For me, the characters must be believable, interesting, and usually flawed in some way.  The plot must also be believable (but not predictable) with at least one big twist that seems to come out of nowhere.

I have one more requirement, which is probably particular to my experience when I read a book.  It has to do with setting.

I love starting a new book.  For those first few pages, I’m still trying to get my bearings.  Besides sizing up the characters and getting a feel for the pace of the book, I start to find a place for the setting.

My parents’ kitchen

For some unknown reason, instead of imagining a unique setting for each book, I plug in something from my childhood.  If the scene takes place in a kitchen, I usually default to my kitchen at my parents’ or my grandparents’ house.  If the author goes on to describe the kitchen and something doesn’t mesh with the one I’ve chosen, I quickly do some mental redecorating, but the structure stays the same.

I don’t choose the room when I start reading.  It’s not something I do deliberately; it’s a reflex.  This reading quirk doesn’t bother me, but I do find it puzzling.  Why do I automatically call on rooms from my childhood to imagine setting?  There is no connection between the story and the chosen room (for example, it’s not like I choose my grandmother’s living room for a scene from The Secret Garden because I remember watching the movie there as a child).  Is there some hidden meaning–a subconscious connection, or is my brain just too lazy to make up an image from scratch?

Perhaps this habit is my way of putting myself in the character’s shoes.  In a way, I guess I’m thinking:  “Ok, if this story had happened to me, it probably would have happened somewhere where I’ve spent a lot of time…”  I seem to be unintentionally imagining what it would be like to live the story, instead of reading it with the intended setting.

My childhood bedroom.

There is an exception to this rule.  If the writing is strong enough, I can think up a completely original setting that has very little to do with my own life.  For example, I recently finished Swamplandia! by Karen Russell and the story swept me away.  I’ll admit that I did imagine the Bigtree house to be much like a family member’s apartment, but I had to make so many alterations that the final product looked nothing like it.  As I read on, I began to imagine each scene vividly, like a movie playing in my mind.  So, for me, this is the final test of a RGB:  the book has the power to make me imagine setting independent of memory.

How do you imagine setting when you read?  What are your reading quirks?  Feel free to share in the comments.

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